“Time Moves Differently Here” by Aesop Rock is an intriguing exploration of the relationship between fast food culture and the looming notion of time’s relentless march. At its core, it reflects on the incongruity of the quick-service drive-thru as a symbol of an ever-hurrying world contrasting the perception of man caught in the indulgence of momentary satisfaction.
In the first verse, Aesop Rock illuminates an individual’s obsession with fast food. He lists off a litany of inordinate food orders, painting a picture of a character lost in hedonistic pleasures. A variety of ingredients and menu items are mentioned, “extra pickles, extra cheese,” and “accidental extra lemon pepper wings.” These unusual combinations reflect the character’s insatiable desire for instant gratification. The humorous line about the “boys to the drive-thru car line” is a clever play on the famous lyric from Kelis’s “Milkshake,” suggesting food is his lure, not sexual allure.
When Aesop says, “I was at the drive through/Playing hooky from the wild goose,” he’s suggesting that he’s skipping crucial responsibilities, represented by the ‘wild goose,’ in exchange for the comfort and immediacy of fast food indulgence. A “time loop” is referenced, perhaps indicating the cyclical nature of this indulgence—a destructive routine of gluttony that detracts from pursuing meaningful endeavors.
In the second verse, Aesop continues the narrative with a quasi-mythical tone. He recalls the character as a newborn, insinuating an inherent obsession with food. The character’s passion crosses the line when he breaks the “yogurt scale,” suggesting his gluttony has consequences. The line about how refusing to toast bread (presumably a free upgrade) suggests an “empty life” seems to say that those who reject activity or change in their lives could be perceived as stagnant or unfulfilled. The character’s decadent desires culminate in a sacrificial act at the ‘window’ of the drive-thru, twisting the concept of fast food culture into a dark parody of ritualistic offering.
The hook of “Time Moves Differently Here,” resurfacing after each verse, repeats the central theme: a man stuck at the drive-thru, the crucial symbol in this song. Between each juicy bite, minutes pass, precious moments are lost, and the world outside keeps spinning, with Aesop adroitly calling attention to the irony of life in the fast lane slowing down at a fast-food joint.